Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

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You get to reframe it!

“There are two ways to live. You can live your life as if nothing is a miracle or you can live your life as if everything is a miracle”

Albert Einstein

 

The other morning I opened my eyes and glanced out the window which is nearby. I happened to see the most beautiful pink, purple and orange sky. That happens sometimes over the Shuswap Lake. This doesn’t happen every morning, but I stopped and felt truly thankful to be alive, to be witnessing this moment, to have this day opening up before me, to have my warm bed, to hear my family…. the list went on and on… and on.

 

My mornings don’t always start like this, but it reminded me of the tool we use in therapy called “Reframing” ie. we get to choose the frame through which we see the world. As it happens, there is always another way to ‘see’ things, and often there is some silver lining… so here is what I tried:

 

Late for school…. we have a school.. and cars that work…my brain and body have the ability to drive… and kids that can learn

I’m hungry… I have food… I have an extraordinary ability to taste…and feel and see

I’m stuck in a line-up…. I get to buy something… I have some money… it’s not life-threatening… maybe I can relax into being late

I have a lot of work to do… I have work (not everyone does)… I have a way to serve people…and help the world… I like my work (fewer still)…

I don’t have time to exercise… I have a body that works… I can still use it to see the changing fall colours (wow!) as I walk… I can have exercise as a choice, as opposed to walking 3 hours a day to get water…

OK this is going to sound real cliche but bear with me. As I looked around me I could see that pretty much everything inside and outside us is a bloody miracle.. and for the most part, things work. Now, this is not a panacea for all our stressors and complaints… let’s face it, life can be difficult and very painful, but read on.

 

This is an experiment done by Ellen Langer, author of Mindful Learning:

Two groups are preparing for a major surgery. One group is taught to reframe the experience in a positive light—noticing the advantages of being in the hospital rather than focusing on the negatives.

The other group was not. The group trained in viewing the experience from a more adaptive perspective “felt less stress, took fewer pain relievers and sedatives, and left the hospital sooner than did patients who were not given this preparation.”

Wow. Of course this extends way beyond hospital stays. What experience can you reframe to see the advantages of?

We ALWAYS have that choice. The key is to be mindful of that fact.

Guess what! You get to choose how you are going to relate to your life… as if it’s a miracle, or it’s not.

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